California Voters Approve $9 Billion Prop 51 Bond Measure

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Roughly 53 percent of California voters passed Proposition 51 (Prop 51) last week. The $9 billion bond measure will allow the state to match local funding for K-12 and community college districts to build new facilities and renovate existing structures as well as help start paying off the $2 billion backlog in state-money requests and an expected $20 billion needed for schools in the next decade.

While most voters agreed that the state needs to upgrade its school infrastructure, opponents like Gov. Jerry Brown argued that Prop 51 will unfairly prioritize more affluent areas, as the state allocated money on a first-come, first-serve basis to districts that already had matching funds, according to the Los Angeles Times. Others argued on the basis of fiscal responsibility, as Prop 51 will cost Californians an estimated $8.6 billion in interest by the time it is paid off in 35 years through taxes.

Despite its drawbacks, Prop 51 became California’s fifth statewide school bond to pass. The $9 billion bond measure will allocate $3 billion to K-12 construction, $3 billion to modernizing public school facilities, $1 billion to charter schools and vocational education facilities, and $2 billion to California community college facilities. Currently, the state pays roughly $2.4 billion each year in debt payments on general obligation bonds passed by voters for education.